Qualifying: First poles for Priaulx

A double-pole at Knockhill for Andy Priaulx showed beyond doubt that the Honda Civic Type-R is now a match for the all-conquering Vauxhall Astra Coupe on speed.

Qualifying: First poles for Priaulx

Priaulx was pleased with his double pole, but not entirely satisfied. "In the first session maybe I could have chipped away a bit more," he admitted, "but in the second I was very happy with what I did."

That top time in the second session was even quicker than the first, even though Priaulx and his rivals had only just over eight minutes to set their times. Because Knockhill is so tight, BTCC bosses decided to split the BTC Touring and BTC Production fields into separate sessions. That meant less room on the timetable and a further decision that the clock would keep running even during red-flag stoppages - and then Warren Hughes was pitched into the McIntyres barrier at the end of the first part of the session after a track-rod broke, the red flags flew. By the time the mess was cleared there was less than half the allotted 20 minutes left.

James Thompson was the best of the top Triple Eight Vauxhall men with second fastest for the sprint race and fourth for the feature, when he wasn't even the top Astra. Aaron Slight had turned in his second great qualifying lap of the season to be third quickest, behind only Priaulx and free practice star Anthony Reid. "This place is a about corner-speed and that helps," said Slight after admitting that he had gone the wrong way on set-up on his Barwell Motorsport Vauxhall for the first part of the session which meant only the 11th fastest time.

Reid admitted to being "hugely disappointed." The Scottish MG ace had been very happy with his car after free practice and left it exactly as it had finished those sessions. That proved to be the wrong move. "The ambient and track temperature had gone up and the car's balance was completely different," he explained. "I couldn't find front-end grip." That left him only sixth quickest in session one, in a car which he later said he was certain was capable of being on pole.

Major adjustments while the red flag was out brought the car back on-form and despite a run-in with Matt Neal which meant a spin early in the drastically-shortened session, Reid still pulled out a lap that came within 0.003sec of Priaulx's pole time.

Neal was another in trouble on the set-up. "We shot ourselves in the foot," he said. "We made a little change for the first session, which didn't work and a bigger one to rectify that for the second - and it was even worse." That meant third and sixth on the grid for Neal and the Egg Sport Astra.

Fourth place on the grid for the sprint was good news for Alan Morrison in the second Honda, but a severe vibration restricted him to 11th for the feature.

Paul O'Neill was in good form to take two fifth places, but Yvan Muller's equally consistent pair of eighth places was much more disappointing, the Frenchman struggling on set-up under maximum weight. Identical times earned Gareth Howell a seventh and a 10th.

Gavin Pyper took a double pole in BTC production. The first good news for the Scot came with another disaster for Hyla Breese. The Australian's Team B&Q Honda Accord had another major engine problem early in free practice (as it has in each of his three appearances to date) and it was withdrawn, assuring first reserve Pyper of a place on the 28-car grid.

Andy Priaulx Honda Civic Type-R 54.325s 86.05mph
James Thompson Vauxhall Astra Coupe 54.482s 85.80mph
Matt Neal Vauxhall Astra Coupe 54.518s 85.75mph
Alan Morrison Honda Civic Type-R 54.560s 85.68mph
Paul O'Neill Vauxhall Astra Coupe 54.568s 85.67mph
Anthony Reid MG ZS 54.578s 85.65mph
Gareth Howell MG ZS 54.773s 85.35mph
Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Coupe 54.788s 85.32mph
Dan Eaves Peugeot 406 Coupe 54.914s 85.13mph
Phil Bennett Proton Impian 54.975s 85.03mph

Gavin Pyper Alfa Romeo 156 57.338s 81.53mph
James Kaye Honda Civic Type-R 57.526s 81.26mph
Norman Simon BMW 320i 57.589s 81.17mph

Andy Priaulx Honda Civic Type-R 54.213s 86.23mph
Anthony Reid MG ZS 54.216s 86.22mph
Aaron Slight Vauxhall Astra Coupe 54.487s 85.80mph
James Thompson Vauxhall Astra Coupe 54.508s 85.76mph
Paul O'Neill Vauxhall Astra Coupe 54.526s 85.73mph
Matt Neal Vauxhall Astra Coupe 54.604s 85.61mph
Dan Eaves Peugeot 406 Coupe 54.630s 85.57mph
Phil Bennett Proton Impian 54.706s 85.45mph
Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Coupe 54.756s 85.37mph
Gareth Howell MG ZS 54.773s 85.35mph

Gavin Pyper Alfa Romeo 156 56.954s 82.08mph
Norman Simon BMW 320i 57.211s 81.71mph
Mark Fullalove Peugeot 306 GTi 57.438s 81.39mph

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